Origin: Dan Brown, Back to a Future Fusion of Heaven & Hell

Spiral Staircase inside Sagrada Familia by Antonin Gaudi, Barcelona
Spiral Staircase inside Sagrada Familia by Antonin Gaudi, Barcelona
Tom Hanks as Professor Robert Langdon, The Da Vinci Code

Tom Hanks as Professor Robert Langdon and Audrey Tatou as Sophie in The Da Vinci Code (2003) directed by Ron Howard

Origin, the latest globally encompassing sure to be bestselling book in the unforgettable Professor Robert Langdon series of stories written by Dan Brown, author of one of the most widely read books of all time The Da Vinci Code (2003), has recently hit the bookstores.

Now being devoured by ardent fans of Dan Brown’s thrill a minute armchair rides, Origin incorporates codes, bone conduction technology, symbolism, science, religion, art and design as it asks for answers to a universal mystery.

Where do we come from? Where are we going?

Gaudi in Barcelona Interior

Interior Sagrada Familia by Antonin Gaudi, Barcelona

Controversial billionaire futurist and Robert Langdon’s friend and former student the charismatic Edmond Kirsch, who is passionate about the works of Catelonia’s most celebrated architect Antonin Gaudi (1852-1926) a man who exceeded the boundaries that other people impose, much like himself, has promised to provide answers that threaten to shake the very foundations of the civilised world.

Kirsch is taking everyone back to the origins of the universe on the way to discover an outstanding technological breakthrough that will challenge ideas surrounding everything humankind knows, understands or believes in.

He challenges prevailing thought, providing a glimpse into a future where our continually evolving destiny may just turn out to be a fusion of heaven and hell.

DAN BROWN

Dan Brown, American writer, author of the bestseller “The Da Vinci Code” and “Angels and Demons”. Portraits taken in the Medicea Library in Florence. © Guido Fuà-Eikona – All rights reserved

The sheer scale and daring attached to Dan Brown’s imagination and his brilliant ability to draw readers descriptively and cleverly into the action going down, while allowing them to hear and understand what Langdon is both seeing and thinking, is impressive.

He communicates succinctly through a fascinating historical and artistic rhetoric, which in some places may be a bit too wordy for some, as he expands knowledge about art, architecture and culture.

Don’t Read Any More if You Don’t Want Spoilers.

Guggenheim

Exterior Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao

Harvard symbologist Professor Robert Langdon arrives in Bilbao, home to the Guggenheim Museum of modern and contemporary art designed by Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry.

He is there to attend a meticulously planned event, one he will be guided through personally by having to don a new type of headphone that drives sound into the bones of your jaw. Much like having a voice inside your head, the well designed device Langdon finds allows his ears to remain free so he can also carry on conversations with his guide or indeed other guests, or to reflect on the fact it is an idea first imagined by eighteenth century composer Beethoven, that has been taken a step further by his very dear friend.

There are 318 guests Langdon discovers, each being treated to an individual experience, which he observes is all very impressive.

Interior: Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao

Interior: Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao

The evening begins well and Langdon is enjoying an informative, witty and wondrous guided walk through the landmark building and some of its specifically chosen works of contemporary art.  His guide for the night has introduced himself as Winston, who has a very British persona.

Expanding his charge’s knowledge about the art they are observing along the way, Winston guides Professor Langdon to an intriguing destination planned by their host; a basketball field size field, where alongside other flabbergasted guests, he’s invited to remove his shoes, lay down on the grass and look to the heavens above

This is where their host will offer a charismatic presentation of his findings.

Park Guell in Barcelona, Spain

View Park Guell in Barcelona, by architect Antonin Gaudi

Edward Kirsch however has set himself up on a collision course and a ‘showdown between himself and the religions of the world, with his well planned event suddenly erupting and descending into chaos.

Langdon with the stunning fiancée of the future King of Spain and friend of Edmond’s at his side, Ambra Vidal, now finds himself on the run from unknown assailants and the law.

He forms quite an attachment for Kirsch’s avatar Winston as he guides them both through the many hoops they will have to leap on their way to finding answers and locate the unique password that will allow them to unlock Kirsch’s secret and release it to the world.

Spiral Staircase inside Sagrada Familia by Antonin Gaudi, Barcelona

Spiral Staircase inside Sagrada Familia by Antonin Gaudi, Barcelona

So many questions need answers, and as they unravel them one by one the plot only thickens, to the point Robert Langdon can feel only despair as on the spiral staircase in the Sagrada Familia designed by Gaudi he faces death head on.

Is the spiritual world far more important than the material world, and the true artist a prophet because he or she is given divine insight?

How high does this conspiracy go… is the royal family involved, or is it an agent of the Catholic Church who is hunting them both down as on their perilous quest as they crisscross the countryside, coming face to face with those trying to stop them sending Kirsch’s shocking discovery online by using his cutting-edge technology.

OriginOrigin is a page turner par excellence, that keeps you engrossed in its storyline and eager to discover if hope and freedom will remain symbolic of a future filled with faith and promise for everyone. As always, all art, architecture, locations, science and religious organisations in Dan Brown novels are real.

You cannot help wondering however, will truth reign as heaven and hell come together or if religion will depart leaving ‘sweet science’ to reign after all? Well you will just have to read it for yourself to find out.

Me, well I binge read its 461 pages all the way through until I finished, admiring and enjoying the extraordinary conceptual view of Mr Dan Brown along the way.

Oh and I did guess the ending, well before half way… but it didn’t spoil my enjoyment.

4/5

Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2017

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